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Tuition reciprocity agreements are one way to cut the cost of higher education while broadening the student’s list of potential colleges. In this article, we will talk about what tuition reciprocity is, the difference between reciprocity and out-of-state scholarships, the major pacts, and requirements.

Use of these pacts is only one way to save on the cost of college. We have also discussed understanding the difference between universities tilt on merit or need-based add as a way to reduce the cost of college. Families should also be saving for college as early as they can. Knowing how to save on the cost of college may bring some expensive institutions in line through the use of reciprocity agreements.

What is tuition reciprocity?

Tuition reciprocity is when a state agrees with another state to provide lower tuition for residents from the other state (and vice versa). Three types of programs exist. The first involves regions of the country from which multiple states join. The second involves a smaller number of states and may include as few as two states. The third involves agreements made between counties, which often share a state border.

For some schools, reciprocity ensures that students outside the normal demographic will consider them. Many of these institutions find it easier to piggyback off each other rather than create new departments. For example, if an Ohio college does not offer a teaching degree but a college in a bordering state does, they may offer pricing reciprocity. You can easily see how this program becomes worthwhile for students.

How are out-of-state tuition scholarships different from reciprocity programs?

As noted earlier, price reciprocity in large part depends on whether you are from a participating state. Indiana students applying to certain colleges in Ohio or maybe Kentucky may receive reciprocity. A student from California wanting to attend the same institution with the same profile would not qualify for the reciprocity price discount.

On the other hand, universities may be willing to give out-of-state scholarships to students who will be traveling farthest to attend. Part of the reasoning stems from the fact that they want more diversity. For example, in the case of an Ohio college, there will likely be a bigger difference between a California high school student and the school’s existing student body than between an Indiana high school student and the school’s existing student body.

Regional reciprocity compacts

Western Undergraduate Exchange WUE states: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming.

Academic Common Market member states: Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia. Texas, Florida, and North Carolina participate only through their graduate programs.

Midwestern Higher Education Compact member states: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, and Wisconsin.

New England Board of Higher Education. The 82 public colleges and universities in the following six states participate in the tuition discount program: Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont.

Requirements of colleges participating in reciprocity pacts

The requirements to take advantage of such programs typically include maintaining a certain GPA. It is not uncommon that students must maintain permanent residency in the state from which the student is applying. Another common need is to apply for reciprocity separately at the same time the college application is being filled out. For more information about specific schools, check out the pacts noted above.

These pacts are not universal. In fact, not all colleges join them. Do not forget the reasoning we discussed earlier regarding why a school would participate in such an agreement. Larger, more popular institutions likely have so much brand recognition, they do not have to offer a price discount.

Downfalls of reciprocity pacts

An article by Jake at In-stateangels.com notes several pitfalls students and families must consider while evaluating these pacts.

– Major Restrictions- Not all majors are available at participating schools. For those students who are unsure or will likely change majors, the loss of the discount could be devastating.

– High Achievers- As mentioned earlier, a minimum GPA may be required. Jake’s article notes Kansas State University’s requirement of a 3.52 GPA and an ACT minimum of 24.

– Limited Seats- Not everyone who applies will get the discount. Universities do not publish the number of students they will accept under these programs.

– Not Automatic- Make sure you ask the recruiter if you must complete an extra application for the discount. This will vary by school.

– Not Forever- Most students do not graduate in four years. Most of these programs are good for only four years. This may become a costly effort for those unwilling to take on several credits each semester or attend summer school to graduate on time.

Next step

First, download the free College Funding Snapshot to see how much college your family can afford. This information will indicate whether a school participating in a reciprocity pact is worth exploring.

Do you have more questions? Feel free to contact me at ncarmany@thewatermarkgrp.com.

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